This post was inspired by an article that i read recently in Shortlist magazine about craft beers and their increase in popularity.
Back in 1840, Scotland boasted over 280 independent breweries. However after experiencing what can only be described as a "brewers droop", by 1910 that number had dropped to about 90 breweries and a continuous decline eventually reduced that figure to just 11 by 1970.
Over the last decade there has been an increase in both the number of start-up breweries, and a shift in consumer choice. Although a few micro-breweries were busy developing their own products and procedures, it was a change in legislation that was perhaps the catalyst in changing the domestic beer industry.
In 2002, the then Chancellor Gordon Brown introduces Progressive Beer Duty, alternatively known as Small Brewers Relief, a 50% reduction on beer duty for those brewers producing less than 5000 hectolitres of beer. The aim of the initiative was to provide start-up breweries with an opportunity to become sustainable business venture.
Over the last few years I have seen my own drinking habits change as I try to get away from buying the mass produced mainstream brands in favour of independently produced craft beers that are packed full of complex flavours. In recent times there are two beers that I have been enjoying after being introduced to them at a local farmers market. The first is West Highland Way, which is an easy drinking lager with a zesty finish, brewed by The Loch Lomond Brewery. The second is California Common, a dark golden malty yet slightly bitter beer, brewed by Edinburgh brewer Knops Beer Company.
Both of these beers were recommended to me by the good people at AleselA when I met them at Clarkston Farmers Market where they always have a wide range of Scottish ales and beers. Check out their website which has a much wider range than they are able bring to the farmers markets, plus a huge host of international offerings too.
Some of the supermarkets have also realised the need to offer the consumer a wider range of options and as such are often able to smorgasbord of choice. Don't be afraid to take home two or three different bottles instead of your usual generic four pack, you might just find a new best friend!